Lessons From the Testosterone Trials

Endocr Rev. 2018 Jun 1;39(3):369-386. doi: 10.1210/er.2017-00234.


The Testosterone Trials (TTrials) were a coordinated set of seven placebo-controlled, double-blind trials in 788 men with a mean age of 72 years to determine the efficacy of increasing the testosterone levels of older men with low testosterone. Testosterone treatment increased the median testosterone level from unequivocally low at baseline to midnormal for young men after 3 months and maintained that level until month 12. In the Sexual Function Trial, testosterone increased sexual activity, sexual desire, and erectile function. In the Physical Function Trial, testosterone did not increase the distance walked in 6 minutes in men whose walk speed was slow; however, in all TTrial participants, testosterone did increase the distance walked. In the Vitality Trial, testosterone did not increase energy but slightly improved mood and depressive symptoms. In the Cognitive Function Trial, testosterone did not improve cognitive function. In the Anemia Trial, testosterone increased hemoglobin in both men who had anemia of a known cause and in men with unexplained anemia. In the Bone Trial, testosterone increased volumetric bone mineral density and the estimated strength of the spine and hip. In the Cardiovascular Trial, testosterone increased the coronary artery noncalcified plaque volume as assessed using computed tomographic angiography. Although testosterone was not associated with more cardiovascular or prostate adverse events than placebo, a trial of a much larger number of men for a much longer period would be necessary to determine whether testosterone increases cardiovascular or prostate risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging* / blood
  • Androgens / administration & dosage
  • Androgens / adverse effects
  • Androgens / pharmacology*
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage
  • Testosterone / adverse effects
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*


  • Androgens
  • Testosterone